Thursday, September 15, 2011

Days 77-78: Back in the USA, Land of Hot Rods and... Twilight?

So, after being spoiled at Michelle's with great food, a bed, a roof, indoor plumbing, and of course, great friendship, it was time to set back out on the open road.  With 9-11 coming up in a few days, we decided it 'd be best to go ahead and return to the USA.  Rather than ferry back to the mainland and drive into the US we decided to just cross the border via ferry from Victoria, BC to Port Angeles, WA.

Victoria is the capital of British Columbia and quite a beautiful city.  Unfortunately we didn't have a lot of time to explore, just the afternoon while we waited for the 7:30 ferry to load.  So we stayed in the harbor area and blew the last of our Canadian dollars!

Which required eating sushi, fish tacos, and drinking beer!  Kipper liked Victoria so much he sidled up to this nice couple at an adjacent table and tried to become a Canadian dog.  They seemed ok with it but we took him anyway.

Sorry, bad photo thru the dirty windshield, but this is us driving into the side of a ship.  Ferries are fun but pricey and they add up after awhile.

On our way to the US of A!  Farewell Canada, we'll be back!

A little celebratory drink as we leave lovely Vancouver Island and enjoy a leisurely float back into the US.  Note the sun is setting in the back.  We have no idea where we're camping and we'll be getting in at almost 10pm.  Finding camping in the dark in an unfamiliar town is no easy task.  No problem, there's a Wal Mart in Port Angeles, WA!  We don't make a habit of it but sometimes it's necessary and the two times we've done it have led to meeting some great people.


So we roll off the ferry with a small caravan of RVs over to the Wal Mart where there's already five or six parked for the night and go to sleep.  This time there were no weather catastrophies so it was actually quite nice.  When we wake up, there's this cool 1970's GM motorhome pulling a trailer with a dragster on it!  They must have pulled in later than us because I would have noticed this.  I talk to the owner, Terry, a little bit and find out that he's headed to an annual drag racing event for nostalgia dragsters and muscle cars in nearby Forks, WA.  Hmmm, we're going that way to Olympic National Park, maybe we can stop in...

What I didn't realize is Forks is also ground zero for something called "Twilight"?

What the.....?

Something to do with Vampires and Wolves or some such nonsense?

Well, guess what?  We drove right past all that sparkly vampire hoohah and hung out with the hot rodders!  Kind of happened by accident.  We were hiking and doing nature stuff in Olympic National Park and started heading towards the beaches and just drove right thru Forks and past this little airport where the racers were setting up and there was Terry and his crew.  Terry on the left with his right hand man, Bill.  Note Le Tigre lurking in the background.  Terry invited us to camp for the night!  Heck yeah!

Of course Angie got to sit in the car...
So we set up camp and spent the night.  Met all of Terry's family and friends that provide support for him and the race car.  Great group of people, they even included us in their potluck dinner that evening.  Very nice.

The races are held at a small airport which requires some preparation for drag racing.  The promoters were able to open up the track for a few passes Friday evening so Terry's crew prepped the car and he got one in before the sun set.  Here Bill is mixing the fuel, alcohol with a splash of nitro!  Of course, it's not that simple.  He has to take ambient temperature and several other factors into account to get the correct ratio.

Takes a lot of work and preparation just to make a single pass.  Here's Terry in his protective fire suit.  We learned a lot about the car too, and how it's built to keep him safe, roll cage, fire suppression, etc, etc.

I got to ride in the bed of Bill's pickup while he pulled Terry from the pits over to the starting line!  Angie and Terry's wife Becky are following on their bicycles.

There's no battery onboard so the car is started with this remote one.  Terry made one pass and, even with a small ignition hickup, hit 115mph (this is a short 1/8th mile track, not a quarter mile, by the way) and he used about a gallon of fuel!

Saturday morning things really started to heat up.  The place was full of cars and spectators.  I love this old Willys pickup done gasser style.  Lots of hot rods, 50's stuff, muscle cars, you name it.


Terry's car in the pits, parachute attached, ready to go!

Terry climbing into the cockpit for his first Saturday run.  Mitch (Terry's son), Bill just behind, Terry, and Marty.  I didn't have an opportunity to get a group photo with Becky, Lisa (Bill's wife), and Walt.  We had to leave shortly after this picture so I'm not sure how the rest of the day went for Terry and crew but I'm sure they had a good time.
We certainly did!  Thanks Y'all!

As if that's not enough, we also did some nature stuff such as checking out this huge, ancient cedar...

And went to the beach!  But we'll get to that in the next installment...

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